History of the United States Patent Law

Topics: Patent, Patent application, United States Pages: 5 (1749 words) Published: May 5, 2013

* 2 History of United States Patent Law
* 2.1 Patent Practice before Federal Patent Laws
* 2.1.1 Case-specific Acts
* 2.1.2 State-level General Patent Laws
* 2.2 United States Federal Patent Laws
* 2.2.1 Constitution
* 2.2.2 Patent Act of 1790
* 2.2.3 Patent Act of 1793
* 2.2.4 Patent Act of 1836

2.1 Patent Practice before Federal Patent Laws
2.1.1 Case-specific Acts
In America in the early colonial period, there were no general laws providing for the issuing of patents. However, people who invented new products could appeal to the colonial governments, which could grant them the exclusive commercial right to the products. The earliest of such rights granted in the colonies was in the state of Massachusetts in 1641. The Massachusetts General Court gave Samuel Winslow an exclusive right to utilize a new process of making salt for 10 years. The case is unofficially known of as the first “patent” in America. [6] Other similar exclusive commercial rights were granted in other colonies and later states of the United States of America. These acts were all private acts of the colony or state governments to grant commercial privileges to specific people, before general laws regarding the issuing of patents were passed in each state. This custom of using private acts to grant patents is often said to have come from the early in England, particularly the English Statute of Monopolies of 1624. 2.1.2 State-level General Patent Laws

Near the end of the 18th century, states started to pass general patent laws replacing the case-specific acts. These state-level general acts set up standardized procedures for patent applications, an examination process, and general terms for patent holdings. The first state to pass a general patent law was South Carolina, in 1784.[7] This first general patent act of the state of South Carolina is titled “An Act for the Encouragement of Arts and Sciences.” Although most of its terms concerned the protection of copyrights, it also included the following provision: “The Inventors of useful machines shall have a like exclusive privilege of making or vending their machines for the like term of 14 years, under the same privileges and restrictions hereby granted to, and imposed on, the authors of books.” [8] [9] Many other states followed suit in passing general patent acts, most using a 14-year term, resembling English practices. However, without a federal system, patentees who wanted to use their invention in more than one state had to apply separately for patents in each state, which was expensive and time-consuming. A standardized national patent law was needed for more efficient patent grating process. [10] 2.2 United States Federal Patent Laws

2.2.1 Constitution
The Constitution of the United States, first adopted on September 17, 1787, had a provision for protecting intellectual properties. The provision is found in Article I, Section 8: “The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” [11] 2.2.2 Patent Act of 1790

The Patent Act of 1790 was the first federal patent statute of the United States. It was titled “An Act to promote the Progress of Useful Arts.”[12] The statute was concise, it only included seven sections. Similar to the state statutes, the federal statute allowed the patentees a 14-year term of exclusive right to use their inventions, without the possibility of an extension. This was unsatisfactory to many inventors who wanted extended protection time for their inventions. They argued that 14 years were not enough, given that it often took several years...
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